What Germany’s turning point means for its feminist foreign policy – POLITICO

Cornelius Adebahr is a Nonresident Fellow at Carnegie Europe.

of Germany Volte face in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, it was celebrated a turning point — a “historic turning point” this could lead to the country abandoning the anti-militarist position it has held since the end of World War II. The question then becomes, what will the country turn to instead?

Does Germany’s turning point mean a return to “Realpolitik” or a new Cold War? Either would be a mistake. Instead, the way forward for the country can be found in the coalition agreement its government signed last year, when it committed to what it called “Feminist Foreign Policy.”

Despite its name, feminist foreign policy is not primarily about the advancement of women; it is about a fundamentally different international approach. In short, it puts the needs of all people first—and not just those of the loudest or most powerful. It is about human rights and conflict prevention, economic development and social participation as well as health and the environment.

Along with immediate support for Ukraine and pressure on the Kremlin to end this war, Germany needs a long-term foreign policy, which is what feminist foreign policy is all about.

Such a policy approach reflects the many elements of the concept of “human security” coined by the United Nations, which focuses on protecting the human dignity of the individual and not on the traditional protection of the state. The feminist approach, on the other hand, calls for the equal participation of all marginalized groups – be it due to ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or age.

This may be a novelty in Germany, but it is not new to the world. The Swedish government is a pioneer of feminist foreign policy since 2014, and Canada, France and Mexico have followed suit, at least in certain policy areas such as “feminist diplomacy.” Other countries such as Denmark and Spain are also pursuing gender-sensitive approaches in foreign policy The European Parliament has also passed a corresponding initiative end of 2020.

The war unfolding on Europe’s doorstep may lead some to question what this feminist approach could do to counter the current Russian aggression. But such a question belies the nature of the approach, which is a bit like a healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet, adequate exercise, and adequate sleep are the basis for longevity. But emergency care is also required in the event of illness or accidents – or even intentional injuries.

In the current situation, Ukraine Got to defend oneself; It is therefore up to Germany and all other countries to ensure this is able to do this. This support is mandated by the UN Charter as part of international law.

However, such necessary measures must also take into account the consequences for the people themselves, be it in Ukraine, in Russia or elsewhere. That means for example Targeted use of economic sanctions, and to withdraw them quickly and effectively in return for appropriate political concessions. Furthermore, despite the exception that currently applies to Ukraine, Germany’s fundamental ban on arms exports to conflict regions should stay.

Also, diplomatic attempts to avert war before invasion must continue. Eventually, if the war is not to end with the annihilation of one party, there must be a compromise on European security issues, painful though given the beginning of the war. The imperatives of the détente policy of the 1980s – whether conventional arms control, limitation of nuclear weapons or confidence-building measures – are hotly debated again.

The war in Ukraine should not be the death knell for Germany’s feminist approach – far from it. The course for this should now be set, in particular with the development of Germany’s first ever national security strategy – a process that has only just begun kicked away by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock – because when the guns are finally silent again, it will be a matter of economic reconstruction, including reforms of the rule of law and the fight against corruption, as well as investments in education, environmental protection and an active civil society.

Precisely because Ukrainians have distinguished themselves with their revolutions and their overwhelmingly strong desire to belong to the European Union, their country boasts a diverse and vibrant society, deserves to be viewed not only through a strategic lens, but with a people-centred focus. This is the tipping point that Germany – and the rest of Europe – really needs. What Germany's turning point means for its feminist foreign policy - POLITICO

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